Category Archives: Daniel Kerr

Do I Have a Choice?

So when I was a kid I didn’t have much choice in what I learned in school. I remember clearly as a whole class having to read the same books and to write about the same things, and having to do the same math worksheets, and having to research the same topics in Social Studies, and even having to do the exact same science experiments. I remember never being able to choose my own partner and I absolutely remember being forced to play the clarinet in 6th grade when all I wanted to do was to play the drums! I also remember not being very interested in any of it. 

As far as I can remember I had no personal connection or choice in anything that I was learning when I was a kid, and I always felt like I was being forced to learn things that I had no desire to learn. Thank goodness for recess and sports and after school activities where I could finally get a little control back in my life. There was however, this one amazing year when I was in 5th grade, and I had a teacher (Ms. Lumsden) who let us all choose our own just right books to read, and who allowed us to write about topics that were important and meaningful to us, and to research anything we wanted in our current events unit, and she even let us design our own science experiment to share with the class…and I could choose my own partner if I wanted! That was easily the best year of my school life, and the year where I actually remember the book that I read, and the experiment that I designed, and the essay that I wrote about baseball…funny enough, It’s also the teacher who I connected with the most, and the one who I felt truly knew me as a young person…man I loved Ms. Lumsden and I loved 5th grade!

Anyway, I’m writing about this because we have been working very hard as a school over the past couple of years to find ways to give our students more voice and choice in their learning, and lately I’ve been noticing it everywhere I look. I see it in our Math stations where kids get to choose which games they play, I see it in our literacy workshops with kids choosing their own just right books and writing about topics that deeply interest them, I see it in our Inspiration Projects where kids go after a passion that they are keen to research and present, and I see it in our science and maker-space programs where kids are given choice in the areas of environmental stewardship, school service, and creative design. In music, kids are able to choose the instruments that they want to play, and in PE students are often able to design their own activities. In Art kids are choosing what materials they use and how they want to represent their learning, and in French students are able to choose the roles that they play in their green screen skits, and they write their own scripts…student choice is literally everywhere! 

You know what, I can honestly say that I’ve never seen our students more engaged and joyful in their learning, and when looking at student data I am seeing an increase in student achievement as well…but the best part of it all is when I pop into classrooms and ask kids about what they truly love about their school experience, they consistently talk to me about the choice that they are given throughout the day. It’s been validating for us to have recently attended conferences and worked with consultants who are championing student voice and choice as a way to deeply engage kids in their learning, and I’m thrilled that our new strategic plan is connected strongly to this purpose…so good. 

Finally, I understand that we can’t give students choice in every activity and experience throughout the day, and I am acutely aware that there is a time and a place for direct teacher instruction and whole class activities. What I am celebrating is the attention that we are paying as a school to finding places across our programs to give students more voice and choice in their learning, and to inspire our students to take more ownership of their total educational experience. I’m asking you all this week to look for ways to give kids choice if you can, where and when it’s appropriate, and then watch as the joy and engagement explodes all around you. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other. 

Quote of the Week…

The necessity of creation is the sovereign power of choice

– Sunday Adelaja

Inspiring Videos-

Call Someone

Fred Rogers Speech

Returning the Favor 

E.T. Returns

Happy Thanksgiving

Related Articles –

The Benefits of Choice

Student Voice and Choice

Why Choice Matters

The Power of Choice

Voice and Choice

Giving Thanks

So with American Thanksgiving coming up this Thursday, I want to post an updated and reworked list of some of the things that I am genuinely thankful for as an educator. I’m writing this from a hotel room, as the sun rises over sleepy Luxembourg, ready to head off for day 2 of an Inquiry-Based Learning conference, and I’m feeling very thankful indeed. So, here we go…in no particular order, I am truly, truly thankful for…

The Noise – Have you ever taken a few minutes in the day to stop and listen to the white noise of a school? If you haven’t then do it on Monday morning…it might just be the most beautiful sound you’ll ever hear. It’s a constant hum of laughing and learning, and failure and success, and teaching and determination and love. One of the best parts of my day is to walk down a hallway and to listen from outside the door to the sounds of kids engaged…or to stand off in the corner of the playground during recess time and listen to the shouts and squeals of happiness, as kids play and make new friends and learn how to fit in…it is definitely music to my ears, and without a doubt, the soundtrack to a beautiful day. 

A Child’s Beauty – Children are the best teachers that any of us could possibly have, and the most beautiful inspirations that exist in our world. It is impossible for someone to spend a day with a child and not come away inspired and changed for the better. If you really listen to what children say, and if you take the time to watch them interact with the world, your heart will fill with joy and your smile will stretch across your face. The way they notice the little things in life that we often take for granted, the way that they are constantly curious, the utter joy that spills from their bodies when they learn something new and find a little success, and their imagination, creativity, and willingness to fail and to try, try, try again…wow…there is nothing in our world like the beauty of a child. 

Committed Educators – Teaching is the most noble, honorable and important profession/vocation that we have in society, and quality teachers are as close to true and living superheroes that we have in our world. Committed educators are change agents…they are sculptors…they are artists…they are mentors…they are role models, and they are often times under appreciated. No professional works harder than a committed educator in my opinion, with the sole focus and responsibility of moulding their students into positive change-makers for our world, and into empathetic, compassionate, critical thinking, and creative members of our communities. Quality teachers are truly amazing and deserve to be lauded for their tremendous efforts and contributions to the future of our planet. 

The Opportunity – The opportunity that we have as educators is incredible, and the responsibility is immense. The opportunity to re-imagine education and to break free from traditional schooling is in our collective hands, and there is no more exciting time to be an educator than right now. We have the ability to transform how we teach our kids, and how we design and redesign learning spaces, and how we write and deliver curriculum, and how we prepare our students for a rapidly changing world…awesome! We have the opportunity to be courageous and innovative and transformational…let’s seize it!

The Struggle – Watching kids learn, and grow, and fail, and develop is a beautiful struggle, and one that I will never get tired of being a part of. Growing up is hard, and trying to find your way in this world is difficult at the best of times. I love this struggle, and I love each child’s journey into becoming who they will eventually become. They all burn so bright, and their joy and pain is so open and honest and so on display. The struggle is incredible to watch, and it brings you back to that time in your life that shaped who you are. It’ll make you laugh and cry and get frustrated, and it will make you proud…but most importantly it will make you feel, and become a part of something truly special, which is each child’s journey into finding themselves, and their purpose…this struggle is at the core of what is beautiful about education. 

The Constant Learning – Each and every day I learn (and re-learn) something new. Being in classrooms and interacting with students and teachers is a constant learning process that makes me a better person. I learn from my mistakes, I learn from the mistakes of others, and I learn about people and how to best support and challenge them. I learn about current educational trends and research, I learn about what’s being successful in other quality schools, I learn from my outstanding leadership and admin teams, and like I said before, I learn from the best teachers that we have…our kids. They teach me everyday about the importance of being my best self for others, and to be humble and honest and a good listener. It’s staggering how much you can learn in the run of a school day if you just open yourself up to it.

The Unexpected – An educator’s day never goes as planned and I love it. The thing about school is that you never know from one second to the next what will come your way, and this uncertainty makes me love my job. There’s always an unexpected mini crisis or a student celebration or an issue with a parent or a teacher or a kid, and it keeps us on our toes in the best possible way. From one hour to the next you can be floored by a student accomplishment, you can be bewildered by a decision that a student or adult has made, you can have a belly laugh from something that a kid says to you, and you can be thrown into a situation that will break your heart…and it’s all good. An individual school day is just like a student…ever-changing, unpredictable, surprising, and always beautiful!

The Joy – If you’re like me then coming to school everyday brings you tremendous joy…how could it not? We get to hang out with kids all day long, we get to spend time with our colleagues who are also our friends, we get to learn and feel and become better human beings because of our daily interactions with our students and each other, and we get to shape the future of our little (and not so little) kids. What other profession can offer such a joyful and purposeful existence? Just when you start to feel stressed or frustrated or overworked, you turn the corner and run into a beautiful little kid, with a huge smile on their face, and so much joy in their hearts, and they run up to you and they give you a big hug and you just melt as their energy reminds you why you love school so much. I’m so grateful for what children bring to my life!

Well, I could go on and on but I’ll leave it at that for now. I hope that some of these resonate with you, and inspire you to think about what it is that you are thankful for as we stare down Thanksgiving this week. I am thankful for the opportunity to be working with such an outstanding faculty and I’m truly grateful for our ASP community. There are only four weeks left until the holiday break so keep your energy up and keep your heart open to why you love school so much. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our kids and good to each other. 

Quote of the week…

 Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses

-Alphonse Karr

Beautiful Videos – Watch them!

Unintended Consequences

So I just finished reading a truly fascinating book titled, Loonshots, by Safi Bahcall, which I highly recommend by the way, and that book coupled with a few recent experiences at school and in my personal life have got me thinking deeply about the law of unintended consequences. You hear people all the time saying things like, “wow, I didn’t see that coming”, or “you know, things never turn out the way you expect”, or “whoops, I didn’t really think about that”, and even after years of leading change initiatives in schools, and having to unpack plenty of decisions that didn’t turn out like I had planned throughout my life, I still get caught dealing with situations that I had no idea were coming my way…but don’t we all!


Bahcall tells a great story about when the Dead Sea Scrolls were first discovered by Bedouin shepherds in a desert cave near the Dead Sea in modern day Israel. The archaeologists offered to pay money to the shepherds for each new scrap of scroll that they found. Their idea and intention was solid and sound at first glance, but they didn’t anticipate the unintended consequence of the shepherds ripping up any full scrolls that they found into little tiny fragments to make more money…whoops. It’s a wonderful little reminder about the importance of thinking deeply and critically about the decisions that we make in schools or in life. 


The beautiful and somewhat scary thing about life as we know it is that you really have no idea what is about to come your way. This realization, which I embraced years and years ago, has led me to a focused approach to living in the moment, and a carpe diem kind of mindset that grounds me in the here and now. That said, even though I gave up long ago trying to control the world around me, I have gotten much better at planning ahead, and trying to identify consequences that are in my blind spot. In schools, particularly when rolling out a change initiative, it’s absolutely imperative that you take the time to think about and identify any negative, unintended consequence that might derail or delay your desired outcome. You’ll never absolutely be able to predict how something may eventually play out, but by purposeful planning and strategic thinking, you can help mitigate any undesired or unintended result.


Reading this book was an important reminder for me to slow down, to use the people I trust as thought partners when making important decisions, and to purposely plan time in meetings for strategic and systems thinking exercises. I’m sharing this with you because unwanted surprises are never fun, and I just want to remind you all to pause, take some time to think about the “what ifs”, and to get differing perspectives when making a decision that will ultimately impact other people. Yes live your life in the present, and absolutely seize the day, but also know that it never hurts to plan ahead. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other. 

Quote of the Week…The greatest thing that science teachers you is the law of unintended consequences- Ann Druyan


Loonshots – Safi Bahcall

Inspiring Videos – 

Heart Transplant

Find Your Voice Choir

What Happened to Kid President?


TED Talk – Unintended Consequences


Related Articles – 

The Cobra Effect

The Law of Unintended Consequences

Organizational Change

Lessons and Takeaways from Loonshots

What’s Your WHY?

So for the past several years I’ve been working as an adjunct professor for Endicott College, teaching Master’s Degree classes on change management and innovation in education. It’s something that I truly enjoy for a number of reasons, but mostly because it provides me the opportunity to learn with educators from all around the world. With every new class and cohort I get re-inspired, I re-connect with why I love teaching so much, and I continuously get challenged to think about the “why” behind what we do as educators. This past week, I asked my current group of passionate professionals to answer that very question in a discussion post, “What is your own personal WHY as an educator? How do you live that truth both inside and outside of the school?”, and the answers that were shared absolutely made my heart want to burst!


It was beautiful to hear them all talking about wanting to inspire young people to be positive change agents for our world. It didn’t matter what subject or grade level or position within the school community they were in, every student in the cohort, from countries spanning across 4 continents, feverishly talked about wanting to develop beautiful human beings…not engineers, or mathematicians, or scientists, or entrepreneurs, or doctors or artists, but beautiful human beings!

 
They talked about the responsibility and opportunity that they had to teach compassion, and empathy, and resilience, and diversity, and social justice, and environmental stewardship, and intercultural understanding and love…it was heartwarming to say the least because I share in that belief that regardless of what careers our young people end up choosing, it’s who they are as people that will make all the difference! It feels good to know that teacher leaders from around the world are living and breathing this same purpose, and connecting to the same WHY when they wake up every morning. I felt honored to be able to reply back to each discussion post and to share that my WHY connects so strongly with theirs. 


Honestly, it was a fun question to ask, and an important one to think about from time to time I believe. We often get so busy in our day to day lives that we can go weeks and weeks without stopping and re-connecting with our meaning and purpose as educators. This week I’m going to ask that you all take a few minutes to answer that same question for yourselves, and maybe even talk about it with a friend or a colleague…maybe even start one of your weekly meetings sharing your WHY out with each other. It’s a powerful and empowering experience to share your WHY with others, and to see how beautifully we are all connected to one another in our pursuit of creating a better world for our kids. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other. 

Quote of the Week…

When you learn, teach. When you get, give. -Maya Angelou


Inspiring Videos – 

Football Surprise

The Surprising Science of Happiness

Cupcakes

Lego Wheelchair


Related Articles – 

Teachers Make a Difference


Simon Sinek – The Origin of the WHY

Strength in Numbers

So I was walking down the hallway this past Thursday on the way back to my office when I passed by a group of students working together outside of the library. I stopped, turned around, and went over to hear what they were discussing, and as I was sitting down, one of the students said, “you know what Mr. Kerr, when we work by ourselves we’re pretty smart, but when we work together we are way, way smarter”. After about 10 minutes of listening to them share ideas, defend their thinking, ask thoughtful and clarifying questions, and eventually come up with several different solutions to a problem, I walked away thinking about what that student had said, and about the whole notion and power of collaboration.


The following day I decided to look for and track all the ways that we work together in schools as students and as professionals, and honestly, I lost count before noon. It started first thing in the morning as I watched kids on the playground working together in teams all over the place, solving problems and playing games. Then I saw it in classrooms during our morning meetings as kids shared ideas, and built trust and made collective plans for the day. As the morning went on I saw group math stations and book club conversations, and strategy groups and peer sharing and editing in writer’s workshop, and team building and strategizing in PE, and group presentations in French…it was everywhere! Kids learning with and from each other…together…sharing and teaching, and gathering and considering perspectives other than their own. It was beautiful to watch.


It didn’t stop there though, as I saw teachers co-teaching and co-planning, meeting in teams to create assessments and lessons and units, looking at student work and analyzing student data, presenting to each other and coaching each other, and using each other as thought partners…again, it was everywhere that I looked! Collaboration builds those critical life skills, which are so necessary for all of us to be successful in today’s world…kids and adults..both in our professional lives and in our lives outside of work. Skills like active listening, analyzing, brainstorming solutions to problems, critical thinking, building consensus and compromising, embracing mistake making, trust building, respect, being open to new and opposing ideas, conflict resolution, self advocacy, leadership, and so much more. 


Working together in groups and in teams really does make us better, and giving these opportunities to our students, and to each other as colleagues is key. All that said, I do recognize and understand the importance of being able to do work on your own as well, and to have that time to write, read, think and create all by yourself…I really do value that time. There is however a power in collaboration, that does enhance the learning experience for all of us I think. I believe in that old idiom, strength in numbers, and like that student so confidently stated, working together really does make us way, way smarter. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other. 

Quote of the Week…

The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team – John Wooden


Inspiring Videos-

Sign Language

The Funeral

TED Talk – Collective Creativity

This is Water – David Foster Wallace

 Best Friends


Related Articles – 

Successful Teams and Projects

Collaboration in the Workplace

Why Collaboration is Essential

Real World Tips

In the Workplace

Partnering for the Win!

So last Thursday evening we had our Lower School back to school Open House event for parents. It was inspiring for me to watch this partnership so beautifully on display, and honestly it was a little emotional for me too. There is something truly magical about watching teachers and parents partnering together in the educational experience of their child, and to see our community come together around the learning of OUR kids. 


Teachers gave parents an authentic look into the day to day experience of a student at ASP, and engaged them in many of the daily routines and community and culture building activities that we embrace as a Lower School. The energy in the building was positive and palpable, and we all left at the end of the night committed to doing our part in support of our children…what better way to begin our school year?


Leveraging the parent community to the fullest extent is something that schools talk about all the time but rarely do all that well. Schools have their usual parent-teacher conference days, and parent coffees, and communication mechanisms and all the rest, but how well do schools really partner with parents as teachers and as professionals and as change agents? Think of the expertise that parents have that we rarely tap into, and think of the missed opportunity that is right there for the taking.


It’s true that kids can’t be what they can’t see so to speak, meaning that the parent community can and should be a portal into unlocking a child’s passion and curiosity and view of a possible future. Doctors and Engineers and Artists and Authors and FilmMakers and Interior Designers and Entrepreneurs and Athletes and Activists and so, so much more…just waiting there to inspire our young people around the endless exciting possibilities, many of which are unknown by our kids at this young age. 


We often talk about giving our students “real life, real world” experiences, and if we really mean that, then let’s look at creative ways to get kids out into the real world. Internships and classroom career days and school future fairs and day trips to check out real life in action…what are we waiting for? As part of our strategic plan initiative, embedded in the idea of “Going Beyond”, we are focused as a school on leveraging these partnerships this year and in the future. My challenge to you is to look for ways in your own departments and grade levels and classrooms to go beyond the usual and traditional way that we partner with parents…and get creative. I’ve shared the poem below a few times before but it is worth sharing again in my opinion. These truly are OUR kids, and the more we partner with each other the better and brighter their future will be.

 
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the climate change protests and marches that happened over the past two days around the world, and I’ve included some important messages from Greta Thunberg for you to act on and absorb. Talk about real life, real world passions for kids…positive change-making across the globe. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other. 


Whose Child is This?

Whose child is this? ‘ I asked one day
Seeing a little one out at play
‘Mine’, said the parent with a tender smile
‘Mine to keep a little while
To bathe her hands and comb her hair
To tell her what she is to wear
To prepare her that she may always be good
And each day do the things she should’

‘Whose child is this? ‘ I asked again
As the door opened and someone came in
‘Mine’, said the teacher with the same tender smile
‘Mine, to keep just for a little while
To teach her how to be gentle and kind
To train and direct her dear little mind
To help her live by every rule
And get the best she can from school’

‘Whose child is this? ‘ I ask once more
Just as the little one entered the door
‘Ours’ said the parent and the teacher as they smiled
And each took the hand of the little child
‘Ours to love and train together
Ours this blessed task forever.’

– Jessie Rivera

Quote of the Week…

Everything ​counts…what you do counts! – Greta Thunberg
Inspiring Videos – 

NatureNow

A Dream Come True

Step Up as a Person

What Does Inclusion Look Like?

Greta Thunberg TED
Related Articles –

Inclusive Schools

Two Way Partnership

Parents as Partners

Community Collaboration

Parents as Teachers

The Happiness Advantage

So I managed to read a number of truly inspiring and thought provoking books over the summer, which I will talk about in future posts, but none of them resonated with me as much as The Happiness Advantage, by Shawn Achor. I had read it before, about 7 or 8 years ago after watching his popular TED Talk, but reading it again this time around felt a little different.

 
You see, I have been thinking a lot about the field of positive psychology lately and how it relates to education and student learning, and his research around the 7 principles of lasting positive change helped shape and focus my approach to this school year. I’ve always been a firm believer that the foundation of any great school begins with the culture and relationships that are present in the building, and if you can get the culture and relationships right then the really important work of schools can begin. So, with that firmly in mind, and with two years of culture and collaboration work behind us as a faculty, we have started the year with a focus on the importance and power of things like gratitude and optimism and happiness, and how we can begin cultivating these mindsets with our kids…and with each other.

 
To go hand in hand with this, we have also intensified our focus on the social curriculum, and ramped up our commitment to giving weight to the social and emotional learning of our students each and every day. We’ve made a commitment as a team to hold on to the people around us…each other…and to individually “being the weather” so to speak when approaching all our conversations and interactions with adults and students. We’ve committed to presuming positive intent, finding the educational courage to have the conversations that we need to have, and going to the source when we have issues or miscommunications. We’ve committed to being grateful for the opportunity that we have as educators and as change agents, and we are modeling this approach to life and learning for our kids and community.

 
It’s no surprise that this has been a truly amazing start to the school year, with this focus playing out palpably already in the hallways and classrooms, and the positive energy of our lower school humming at a fever pitch. Changing our own mindsets as adults has had a profound effect on how we come to school each day, and my challenge for all of us is to keep it up…and to turn this wonderful start into just “the way we do things around here”. If you haven’t read Achor’s book yet, then do yourself a favor and pick it up. It’s an easy read but a very powerful one, and a book that can truly help you leverage that happiness advantage.

 
Anyway, being a world class educator begins with who you are as a person for the people that you meet throughout the day, and what mindset you bring to school with you when you enter the building…so keep those smiles burning bright, cultivate that joy, and be grateful. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our students and good to each other. 

Quote of the Week….Everywhere you go, take a smile with you – Sasha Azevedo

Inspiring Videos – 

Earning your Parent Stripes

Holding Doors

The Happiness Advantage for Children

Addicted Handyman

TED Talks – 

Shawn Achor

Malcolm Gladwell

Related Articles –

Why is Positive Psychology Important?

The Pursuit of Happiness

In the Classroom

Happy Teachers, Happy Students

Happy Classrooms

School is My favorite Time of the Year

So when you enter the front gate of our school this year you’ll notice a large photo of a beautiful little boy in our early childhood program. His smile is wide and he’s bursting with joy and the caption below is a quote of his from last year when he had just turned four…it reads, “school is my favorite time of the year!”, and you know what, I absolutely agree with him. 


I don’t know about you but I couldn’t wait for the school year to begin and for the kids to arrive. I couldn’t sleep the night before and when that first bus arrived in the parking lot last Wednesday, I could barely contain myself…actually, I didn’t as I danced and sang and high-fived and hugged everyone in sight. There’s something about the start of a new school year that makes my heart want to burst, and in my opinion it is absolutely the most beautiful day of the calendar year. 


From an educator’s perspective that first day of the year represents so much hope and promise…it’s such an opportunity, and a perfect clean slate waiting for us to make this year the best year of our teaching lives. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been teaching, or what role you play within the school, the level of excitement that is mixed with that little bit of nervousness is magical and unique to that first day. From a student’s perspective it’s kind of the same I think…excitement and nervousness and hope and promise. It’s all there, rolled out in front of us all and ready for the taking…that first day of the year, a perfect white canvas…it doesn’t get any better than that. 


I love standing back at times throughout that first day and watching the teachers interact with the kids and the kids interacting with each other. I love the noise and the smiles and awkwardness and all the connections, new and old. Everyone is trying so hard to make the first day go smoothly…perfectly…and when it does, like it did for us this year, you leave at the end of the day inspired and feeling on top of the world, and eager for day two. 


My challenge to you, and the challenge that I’m giving to myself this year, is to find ways to bottle up that first day feeling, that magic, and keep that level of joy and excitement rolling throughout the year. Finding ways to treat everyday like the first day, and to bring our best selves to work each and every morning. We might not sing and dance and jump up and down like I did last week, but the focus, the purpose, and the commitment that we all brought to that first day of school can become a daily occurrence if we pay attention to it. I love coming to school, I always have, and like another little kid said to us on the first day this year, “school is my favorite place in town”, and you know what, it’s mine too.  


I want to wish you all a fantastic beginning to the year, and I want to thank you for making the first few days so amazing for our kids…keep it up and open that bottle of magic each and every day. There’s something special in the air this year, and there is no reason why this year can’t be our best year ever…treat every day like the first day of school and there’s no way that it won’t be. Have a wonderful week two everyone, and remember to be great for our students and good to each other. 


Quote of the Week…First day of school! Wake up! Come on. First day of school! – Finding Nemo


Inspirational Videos –

 The Mighty Quinn

Female Army Soldiers

First day of School

Back to School Gratitude


Related Articles – 

Strategies for Teachers

Building Relationships

Kicking Off the School Year

Inside and Outside the Classroom

Bursts of Inspiration

So roughly seven years ago my big brother Tim had a full blown brain hemorrhage and stroke, and his road to recovery has been not only challenging for him and his family, but ridiculously inspiring as well. When the stroke happened he was already in the midst of recovering from a terrible military accident, which crushed his hip and pelvis, so you can imagine how those closely combined years and experiences must have thrown him for a loop. The thing that you need to know however, is that these events didn’t crush his sprit or send him into a spiraling depression, they somehow triggered a deep strength of character, and tapped into a level of courage and perseverance that has driven him forward. Together these events have unleashed a level of internal fight and sense of purpose that have turned him into a real life super hero for me and for countless others…my brother the super hero, how lucky am I?


Over the years I have often wondered about how he has found a way to keep his spirits up, and how he has managed to find his own inspiration throughout the struggle and throughout his long road to recovery. When we talk about it, he passionately reminds me that there are little bursts of inspiration all around us everywhere, and all the time. We just need to open up our eyes and hearts to recognizing them, and embracing them, and using them to become better versions of ourselves for others. I remember walking on the beach with him a couple of summers ago, and talking about how important it is to use these daily inspirations to find purpose and meaning in our lives, and to use them to give back, and to in turn find ways to become our own inspirations for the people that we meet along the way.


That conversation really resonated with me and called me to action. The thing about life for everyone, and in particular for us in the field of education, is that you really can’t go two hours or so without being inspired by someone or something that can change your day for the better, and push you to be better, and ultimately, inspire you to do better…but here’s the thing, you have to allow it to. Whether it’s students or adults overcoming hardship, or struggling to find their way, or dealing with issues that most of us know nothing about, or even just watching how students and teachers are always inspiring others through a positive action, or a random act of kindness, or a simple day changing comment or smile. There is always a burst of inspiration around every corner if you stop to look and internalize it…but how often do we actually make a point of doing that? Probably not often enough. 


Listen, I know that I’m lucky because I have my big brother to inspire me everyday, and I also know that not everyone has a real life super hero in their family, but really, it doesn’t matter. We all have access to some form of daily super hero in the form of friends, colleagues, students, family members, or even random strangers. Super heroes that provide us with little bursts of inspiration that are just waiting to be grabbed, and used, and paid forward so that we can collectively do and be better for our world..and for each other. My challenge to you this week, and over the summer holiday, is to make an effort to open up your eyes and hearts to these inspirations, and find ways to make them help you become a better version of yourself. Life really does get better when we can find ways to see the courage and strength and beauty of others as inspirations, and for fuel for our own personal journeys. Have a wonderful final full week of the school year everyone, and remember to be great for our students and good to each other.

CTV News – I Want to Give Back


CTV Listen – Stroke Survivor


Quote of the Week…

Life becomes easier and more beautiful when we can see the good in other people-Roy T. Bennett


Inspirational Videos – 
Learning Sign Language

Golden Buzzer

Nike Change the World

Nike Dream Crazy

97 Year Old D-Day Jumper


A TED Talk Favorite –

 Aimee Mullins – Adversity


Related Articles –

Find Inspiration

Inspire Others

Motivate Yourself

Overcome adversity

Attitude is Everything

Reframing Regret

So this past week I was contacted by a former student of mine, as well as by a long time friend who I have know since I was a kid, both struggling with the same thing and wanting to chat. Even though they have grown up generations apart, and under very different circumstances, they are similarly trying to get over, and out from under, a debilitating issue that has consumed them to the point of major concern for years…that issue is regret.

 
They have both led very, very difficult lives, through mostly no fault of their own, and ultimately have made bad mistakes that they couldn’t seem to reconcile or to move past until just recently. Coincidentally, they shared with me that even though it took them a long time to get to this place, they have both started to reframe their regrets, and finally look at them not as insurmountable personal failures, but as opportunities to do better in their lives, and to become better adults for the people that they know and love. All of this got me thinking about the many mistakes that I’ve made in my life…mistakes that I’m not at all proud of, and at a point in  time ones that I wished that I could go back and change. But you know what, when I really think deeply about it, I come to the realization that those mistakes/regrets have actually helped to shape the person that I’ve become, and they have been the catalyst for tremendous personal growth. 


The think about regrets is that if you’re not careful, they can begin take over and impact your life in very negative ways, and stop you from growing at all…they can be debilitating and all consuming, and you can spend your life beating yourself up and letting these mistakes define who you are…keeping you stuck in the past and moving nowhere. The thing that both of my friends talked about when we chatted at length last week, was the importance of how you frame the mistakes that you make in your life. They talked about how regrets can’t be things that you hide away and bury down deep, or even run away from, they have to be embraced and leveraged as opportunities to do better. It’s a difficult shift in thinking but an important one, and a shift that has helped them take control over their lives again. 


They have spent the last several months facing their regrets head on, and finding ways to make it right with the people that they have hurt along the way. They know now that they can’t change what they’ve done but they can do better, and they have. I’m sharing this with you all today because it’s a powerful lesson that we all need to learn if we haven’t already, and as educators, a powerful lesson that we need to share and model for our students. As imperfect human beings we all make mistakes…lots of them, and some of them are bad. The trick is to find a way to own them, make it right with the people that we’ve wronged, and to use the lessons that mistakes always teach us to do better. It’s way too easy to have a bad mistake linger throughout our lives and impact our self worth, so finding a way to embrace it and grow from it, and ultimately move on from it is the way to keep moving successfully forward. 


Anyway, both of my friends challenged me this week to think about a past mistake that I might have made, or regret that I have that is still lingering in my mind and unresolved, and to address it. Take it down from the shelf where it’s hidden away and own it and move on…so, that’s what I’m going to do, and maybe some of you can do the same if needed. Mistakes, regardless of how bad they might have been, can always be used to become better version of ourselves, it’s just a matter of reframing them in our minds. Not always as easy as it sounds I know, and sometimes it takes a long, long time but in the end it will be a freeing experience. Have a wonderful week and remember to be great for our students and good to each other. 

Quote of the Week…Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets-Arthur Miller


Inspiring Videos – 

A Lasting Impression

Everything to Do With the Kids

Teachers Rock

TED Talk – Don’t Regret Regret

TED Talks –Learning From Failure

Related Articles –

Teaching Realistic Optimism 

Move On

The Psychology of Regret

Reframe Your Failures

Regrets Can Actually Help You